Could yours be a ‘good’ divorce?
Dec 5, 2022
Last week was Good Divorce Week, an annual awareness-raising campaign run by Resolution, the community of family justice professionals.
The focus of this year’s campaign is the problems being experienced in the family courts. It also aims to draw attention to the ways in which families can resolve their disputes away from the court.
The family courts have been over-stretched for some time. Figures from HM Courts & Tribunals Service reportedly show a 110,000-case backlog, with the average time taken to complete an open private law case standing at 43 weeks. (https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/family-court-backlog-climbs-to-110000/5114276.article)
It’s a challenging situation for all involved but particularly for those families that are relying on the court system to bring about a resolution of their issues. As family lawyers, we see the pressures that people are under, and their desperation to change their circumstances for the better. While some are forced to take the court route (perhaps their situation involves domestic abuse, for example) others are increasingly open to the idea of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
There is no doubt that ADR offers people a very real, viable option. Mediation, arbitration, collaborative law and even solicitor-led negotiation can be a quicker and more constructive way of families resolving their issues than the court could provide. In contrast to the court process, ADR gives parties a great deal more control over the outcome. It also provides a less formal environment in which to air views and discuss potential solutions.
However ADR’s success depends on both parties being willing to take part and to cooperate in the process. This being so, ADR won’t work in all family circumstances. I mentioned domestic abuse; those cases need to be dealt with by the court. Similarly, where the strength of feeling between two former partners is so high that they simply can’t entertain the thought of agreeing anything between them, ADR may not be suitable (although we always advise clients not to dismiss this out of hand; the process can produce surprising results). However, where both parties embrace the opportunities that ADR offers, particularly when compared with the downsides of the court-led process, it can make for a hugely positive experience. Some even find they begin to build a better relationship with their former partner, setting them up for a brighter co-parenting future.
Could a ‘good’ divorce be within your grasp? Contact us on 01264 353411 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your situation and the possibilities that ADR could offer.
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